1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/La Tène

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LA TÈNE (Lat. tenuis, shallow), the site of a lake-dwelling at the north end of Lake Neuchâtel, between Marin and Préfargier. According to some, it was originally a Helvetic oppidum; according to others, a Gallic commercial settlement. R. Forrer distinguishes an older semi-military, and a younger civilian settlement, the former a Gallic customs station, the latter, which may be compared to the canabae of the Roman camps, containing the booths and taverns used by soldiers and sailors. He also considers the older station to have been, not as usually supposed, Helvetic, but pre- or proto-Helvetic, the character of which changed with the advance of the Helvetii into Switzerland (c. 110-100 B.C.). La Tène has given its name to a period of culture (c. 500 B.C.-A.D. 100), the phase of the Iron age succeeding the Hallstatt phase, not as being its starting-point, but because the finds are the best known of their kind. The latter are divided into early (c. 500-250 B.C.), middle (250-100 B.C.) and late (100 B.C.-A.D. 100), and chiefly belong to the middle period. They are mostly of iron, and consist of swords, spear-heads, axes, scythes and knives, which exhibit a remarkable agreement with the description of the weapons of the southern Celts given by Diodorus Siculus. There are also brooches, bronze kettles, torques, small bronze ear-rings with little glass pearls of various colours, belt-hooks and pins for fastening articles of clothing. The La Tène culture made its way through France across to England, where it has received the name of “late Celtic”; a remarkable find has been made at Aylesford in Kent.

See F. Keller, Lake Dwellings of Switzerland, vi. (Eng. trans., 1878); V. Gross, La Tène un oppidum helvète (1886); E. Vouga, Les Helvètes à La Tène (1886); P. Reinecke, Zur Kenntnis der la Tène Denkmäler der Zone nordwärts der Alpen (Mainzer Festschrift, 1902); R. Forrer, Reallexikon der prähistorischen . . . Altertümer (1907), where many illustrations are given.